On Human Rights Day 21 March 2013, 19 peer educators from KwaMfundo Senior Secondary School and Iqhayiya Senior Secondary School in Khayelitsha set off for the Manyano Centre situated in the picturesque town of Paarl for the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust’s annual Birds and the Bees Youth Camp. This camp was the finale to the peer education programme activities for the year and gives peer educators an opportunity to explore the issues they have worked with during the year in a more intensive, in depth way and informs Rape Crisis in the development of its model for prevention work with youth. Our expert team of facilitators went with them.
The Rape Crisis peer education programme identifies schools that are at a high risk for sexual bullying and where there are a high number of rape survivors among the learners. A group of 20 – 25 learners from grades 10 – 11 are recruited to take part in a thirteen week training course which equips them to act as a resource to rape survivors in their schools. They also organise poster campaigns on commemorative days and arrange various activities that highlight the issue of sexual bullying in schools.
There was much excitement and anticipation on the way to the camp as the group chanted lively songs and kept asking how close they were to arriving. The group gathered at the start of a challenging climb in the Paarl Mountain Reserve. Each peer educator was paired with a friend whom they would motivate and encourage throughout the climb.
During the ascent some felt their strength dwindling and felt like giving up but at the resting points their partners cheered them on with song and words of support. On the peak of the mountain they took a few moments to admire the breathtaking views of Paarl and reflected on how their experience of climbing the mountain mirrored some of the challenges they face in their lives:
“Life is sometimes like a mountain, it is hard going up. We are faced with many challenges in our communities like gangsterism and rape. Just like we had our partners to support us on the climb, it is important for us to support people in our communities who have experienced rape and other types of violence when they feel like giving up.”
After their descent the group participated in a few team games including navigating a rope ‘spider web’ and an obstacle course. Afterwards they reflected on the importance of teamwork and decided that it comprised the following ingredients: listening skills, perseverance, encouraging participation from everyone and looking for creative solutions. They discussed how these ingredients are also essential if youth are to work together to combat rape.
Peer educators partook in an awareness programme in one of the township areas in Paarl, organised by Community Action towards A Safer Environment (CASE). They played soccer against 13 other teams from around the local community, Somerset West and Wellington and afterwards signed pledges against gender violence alongside the others.
The group also participated in discussion groups where they talked about the importance of equality and respect in relationships, confronted some of the myths about rape and how difficult it can be for women who are financially dependent on an abusive partner to report sexual abuse and claim their constitutional right to safety.
The group consolidated their learning and experiences by writing their own stories about their journey within the Rape Crisis peer education programme. They reflected on how their beliefs and ideas about rape had changed and on the valuable knowledge and skills they had learned that now enable them to support the survivors they encounter and serve as ambassadors in their schools in the fight against sexual bullying and rape.
Thanks to our Rape Crisis team, Kholeka Brenda Booi, Joyce Doni-Mxego, Noluthando Mvilili, Nosicelo Mfumbe, Nomthandazo Tshingo for all their inspiring work with this group and Nomnqweno Nomxhego and Ewart Mouton for documenting the journey.
This project was made possible by the Western Cape Department of Social Development, and Oxfam.